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Why was Menshikov shot? The fate of the anti-corruption fighter
Why was Menshikov shot? The fate of the anti-corruption fighter

All his life, with his striking articles, he fought for the strengthening of the Russian state, bravely exposing corrupt officials, liberal democrats and revolutionaries, warning of the threat looming over the country. The Bolsheviks who seized power in Russia did not forgive him for this. Menshikov was shot in 1918 with extreme cruelty in front of his wife and six children.

Mikhail Osipovich was born on October 7, 1859 in Novorzhev, Pskov province, near Lake Valdai, in the family of a collegiate registrar. He graduated from the district school, after which he entered the Technical School of the Naval Department in Kronstadt. Then he took part in several long sea voyages, the literary fruit of which was the first book of essays, published in 1884 - “Through the ports of Europe”. As a naval officer, Menshikov expressed the idea of ​​combining ships and airplanes, thereby predicting the appearance of aircraft carriers.

Feeling a vocation for literary work and journalism, in 1892 Menshikov retired with the rank of captain. He got a job as a correspondent in the newspaper "Nedelya", where he soon attracted attention with his talented articles. Then he became a leading publicist for the conservative newspaper Novoye Vremya, where he worked until the revolution.

In this newspaper he led his famous column "Letters to Neighbors", which attracted the attention of the entire educated society of Russia. Some called Menshikov "a reactionary and a Black Hundred" (and some still call him). However, all this is malicious slander.

In 1911, in his article "Kneeling Russia" Menshikov, exposing the machinations of the Western backstage against Russia, warned:

“If a huge fund is going to America in order to flood Russia with murderers and terrorists, then our government should think about it. Really, even now our state guards will not notice anything in time (as in 1905) and will not prevent trouble?"

The authorities then did not take any measures in this regard. And if they did? It is unlikely that then Trotsky-Bronstein, the main organizer of the October Revolution, would have been able to come to Russia in 1917 with the money of the American banker Jacob Schiff!

Ideologist of national Russia

Menshikov was one of the leading publicists of the conservative trend, acting as the ideologue of Russian nationalism. He initiated the creation of the All-Russian National Union (VNS), for which he developed a program and charter. This organization, which had its own faction in the State Duma, included moderate-right elements of the educated Russian society: professors, retired military men, officials, publicists, clergymen, famous scientists. Most of them were sincere patriots, which later proved many of them not only by their struggle against the Bolsheviks, but also by their martyrdom …

Menshikov himself clearly foresaw the national catastrophe of 1917 and, like a true publicist, sounded the alarm, warned, and sought to prevent it. “Orthodoxy,” he wrote, “liberated us from ancient savagery, autocracy from anarchy, but the return to savagery and anarchy before our eyes proves that a new principle is needed to save the old. This is a nationality … Only nationalism is able to return to us the lost piety and power."

In the article "The End of the Century", written in December 1900, Menshikov called on the Russian people to preserve the role of the power-forming people:

“We Russians slept for a long time, lulled by our power and glory, - but then one heavenly thunder after another struck, and we woke up and saw ourselves under siege - both from the outside and from within … We do not want someone else's, but our - Russian - land should be ours."

Menshikov saw the possibility of avoiding a revolution in the strengthening of state power, in a consistent and firm national policy. Mikhail Osipovich was convinced that the people, in council with the monarch, should govern officials, and not they. With the passion of a publicist, he showed the mortal danger of bureaucracy for Russia: "Our bureaucracy … reduced the historical power of the nation to nothing."

The need for fundamental change

Menshikov maintained close relations with the great Russian writers of that time. Gorky admitted in one of his letters that he loves Menshikov, because he is his "enemy after heart", and enemies "tell the truth better." For his part, Menshikov called Gorky's "Song of the Falcon" "evil morality," because, according to him, the world was saved not by the "madness of the brave" carrying the uprising, but by the "wisdom of the meek", like Chekhov's Lipa ("In the ravine").

There are 48 letters from Chekhov to him, who treated him with unwavering respect. Menshikov visited Tolstoy in Yasnaya, but at the same time criticized him in his article "Tolstoy and Power", where he wrote that he was more dangerous for Russia than all revolutionaries put together. Tolstoy answered him that while reading this article he experienced "one of the most desirable and dear feelings for me - not just goodwill, but direct love for you …".

Menshikov was convinced that Russia needed radical changes in all areas of life without exception, only this was the salvation of the country, but he had no illusions. "There are no people - that's what Russia is dying on!" - Mikhail Osipovich exclaimed in despair.

Until the end of his days he gave merciless assessments to the smug bureaucracy and the liberal intelligentsia: “In essence, you have long ago drank everything that is beautiful and great (below) and devoured (above). They unwound the church, the aristocracy, the intelligentsia."

Menshikov believed that each nation should persistently fight for its national identity. “When it comes to,” he wrote, “about the violation of the rights of a Jew, Finn, Pole, or Armenian, an indignant outcry rises: everyone is shouting about respect for such a shrine as nationality. But as soon as the Russians say about their nationality, about their national values: indignant cries are raised - misanthropy! Intolerance! Black Hundred violence! Rough arbitrariness!"

The outstanding Russian philosopher Igor Shafarevich wrote: “Mikhail Osipovich Menshikov is one of a small number of astute people who lived in that period of Russian history, which seemed to others (and still seems to be) cloudless. But sensitive people even then, at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, saw the main root of the impending troubles, which later fell on Russia and are still experienced by us (and it is not clear when they will end). Menshikov saw this basic flaw in society, which carries the danger of future deep upheavals, in the weakening of the national consciousness of the Russian people … ".

Portrait of a modern liberal

Many years ago Menshikov vigorously exposed those in Russia who, like today, reviled her, relying on the "democratic and civilized" West. “We,” wrote Menshikov, “do not take our eyes off the West, we are mesmerized by it, we want to live just like that and no worse than 'decent' people live in Europe. Under fear of the most sincere, acute suffering, under the yoke of a felt urgency, we need to furnish ourselves with the same luxury that is available to Western society. We must wear the same dress, sit on the same furniture, eat the same dishes, drink the same wines, see the same spectacles that Europeans see. In order to satisfy their increased needs, the educated stratum makes ever greater demands on the Russian people.

The intelligentsia and the nobility do not want to understand that the high level of consumption in the West is associated with its exploitation of a large part of the rest of the world. No matter how hard the Russian people work, they will not be able to achieve the level of income that in the West is obtained by siphoning unpaid resources and labor of other countries in their favor …

The educated stratum demands extreme exertion from the people in order to ensure a European level of consumption, and when this does not work out, it is indignant at the inertness and backwardness of the Russian people."

Didn't Menshikov draw a portrait of the current Russophobic liberal "elite" with his incredible perspicacity more than a hundred years ago?

Courage for honest work

Well, aren't these words of an outstanding publicist addressed to us today? “The feeling of victory and victory,” wrote Menshikov, “the feeling of domination in one's own land was not at all suitable for bloody battles only. Courage is needed for all honest work. Everything that is most precious in the struggle with nature, everything brilliant in science, arts, wisdom and people's faith - everything moves precisely through the heroism of the heart.

Every progress, every discovery is akin to revelation, and every perfection is a victory. Only a people accustomed to battles, saturated with the instinct of triumph over obstacles, is capable of something great. If there is no sense of domination among the people, there is no genius either. Noble pride falls - and a person becomes a slave from a master.

We are held captive by slave, unworthy, morally insignificant influences, and it is from here that our poverty and incomprehensible weakness for the heroic people is from.

Was it not because of this weakness that Russia collapsed in 1917? Isn't that why the mighty Soviet Union collapsed in 1991? Is it not the same danger that threatens us today if we yield to the global onslaught on Russia from the West?

Revenge of the revolutionaries

Those who undermined the foundations of the Russian Empire, and then seized power in it in February 1917, did not forget and did not forgive Menshikov for his position as a staunch statesman and fighter for the unity of the Russian people. The publicist was suspended from work at Novoye Vremya. Having lost his home and savings, which were soon confiscated by the Bolsheviks, in the winter of 1917-1918. Menshikov spent in Valdai, where he had a dacha.

In those bitter days, he wrote in his diary: “February 27, December 12, 1918. Year of the great Russian revolution. We are still alive, thanks to the Creator. But we are robbed, ruined, out of work, expelled from our city and home, doomed to death by starvation. And tens of thousands of people have been tortured and killed. And all of Russia has been thrown into the abyss of a shame and disaster unprecedented in history. What will happen next is scary to think about - that is, it would be scary if the brain was not already full and filled to insensibility with impressions of violence and horror."

In September 1918, Menshikov was arrested, and five days later he was shot. In a note published in Izvestia it was said: “The well-known Black Hundred publicist Menshikov was shot by the emergency field headquarters in Valdai. A monarchist conspiracy was revealed, led by Menshikov. An underground Black Hundred newspaper was published calling for the overthrow of the Soviet regime."

There was not a word of truth in this message. There was no conspiracy and Menshikov did not publish any newspaper at that time.

They took revenge on him for his former position as a staunch Russian patriot. In a letter to his wife from prison, where he spent six days, Menshikov wrote that the Chekists did not hide from him that this trial was an "act of revenge" for his articles published before the revolution.

The execution of the outstanding son of Russia took place on September 20, 1918 on the shores of Lake Valdai opposite the Iversky Monastery. His widow, Maria Vasilievna, who witnessed the execution together with the children, later wrote in her memoirs: “Arriving in custody at the place of execution, the husband faced the Iversky Monastery, clearly visible from this place, knelt down and began to pray. The first volley was fired for intimidation, but this shot wounded the husband's left arm near the wrist.The bullet tore out a piece of meat. After this shot, the husband looked around. A new volley followed. They shot in the back. The husband fell to the ground. Now Davidson with a revolver jumped up to him and shot at point-blank range twice in the left temple. The children saw the execution of their father and cried in horror. Chekist Davidson, having shot in the temple, said that he was doing it with great pleasure.

Today Menshikov's grave, miraculously preserved, is located in the old city cemetery of the city of Valdai (Novgorod region), next to the Church of Peter and Paul. Only many years later, the relatives achieved the rehabilitation of the famous writer. In 1995, Novgorod writers, with the support of the Valdai public administration, unveiled a marble plaque on Menshikov's estate with the words: "Shot for convictions."

In connection with the anniversary of the publicist, the All-Russian Menshikov Readings were held at the St. Petersburg State Marine Technical University. “In Russia, there was no publicist equal to Menshikov,” said Mikhail Nenashev, chairman of the All-Russian Fleet Support Movement, in his speech.

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